Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on March 29, 2009

Gospel reading for the Fifth Sunday in Lent:

John 12:20-33

Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat;

but if it dies, it produces much fruit.

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.

“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”

He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

Reflection on today’s gospel reading: Jesus articulates in today’s gospel the great paradox of Christian life, that through death comes life, that through failure comes success, that through defeat comes victory. In speaking of the consequence of his own suffering and death, Jesus speaks of God’s power to transform our deaths, our failures, and our defeats into life, success, and victory.

The words are not empty but go to the crux of our hope: that the dead ends we encounter in our existence which have the appearance of personal ruin and failure are opportunities for something brand new and far greater than what we have lost. To all outward appearances, the life of Jesus should have been considered a failure: after a ministry to lepers and the poor of backwater Galilean towns in a remote part of the Roman Empire that ended in ignominious execution on trumped up charges, the world should never have heard anything more of Jesus of Nazareth, yet a life that ended in defeat on the cross has transformed the world and given immense hope to many nations. So it is that unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains but a grain of wheat, but if it dies, it produces much fruit.

Spiritual reading of the day: A humble man can do great things with an uncommon perfection because he is no longer concerned about incidentals, like his own interests and his own reputation, and therefore he no longer needs to waste his efforts in defending them. For a humble man is not afraid of failure.

In fact, he is not afraid of anything, even of himself, since perfect humility implies perfect confidence in the power of God before Whom no other power has any meaning and for Whom there is no such thing as an obstacle. Humility is the surest sign of strength. (Seeds by Thomas Merton)